Nyepi Day of Silence represents Bali’s lunar new year and being based on pawukon usually comes around in March. It’s ultimately the quietest day in Bali. The Melasti processions take place around 3 days prior to Saka New Year when pilgrims take heirlooms in long walks from temples towards the coastlines for purification rituals.
Saka New Year Eve is loud and festive. In the evening, fire torches and firecrackers are lit to rid the land of malevolent forces and grotesque ogoh-ogoh papier-mâché effigies are paraded throughout the streets. From 6am the following morning, the new year is celebrated in total silence and seclusion. There’s no activity, no traffic, no amusement, and no fires or lights may be lit.
On Galungan the locals celebrate the victory of good (dharma) over evil (adharma). The festivals lasts 10-day during which time it is believed the gods come down to earth to join in the celebrations, whilst the spirits of the deceased return to their homes.
Traditionally, the Galungan Eve on a Tuesday sees the slaughtering of pigs in preparation for communal feasts, as well as baking traditional rice cakes and erecting the iconic penjor bamboo poles. These intricately decorated poles, naturally curved at the top, are adorned with common harvest items such as rice, fruits, coconuts and coconut leaves.
The men of the households erect their ‘artwork’ at each household gate on the eve of Galungan, resulting in an impressive view throughout all village roads.
The Bali Arts Festival, locally known as Pesta Kesenian Bali, takes place every year for a month. It’s a yearly celebration showcasing a colorful variety of exhibitions and performances as well as various artworks and cultural achievements.
The festival invites the public to the Niti Mandala Renon square for the lavish opening with street parades.
The annual event has been running since 1979, when it was launched with the intention of preserving Balinese culture and reviving the island’s lost art forms. Today it features art, dance, handicrafts, puppetry, music, and much more, and performers come from villages and towns all over Bali.
Makepung, the Bull races represents a unique traditional festival that stemmed from the agrarian life of the island’s local farming communities that originates from the regency of Negara, West Bali.
It was a traditional pastime when farmers simply decided to have fun after the rice fields were harvested. The name Makepung is derived from the base word of kepung, which means ‘to chase’. The rushing hooves that pound the ground into loose soil fresh from harvesting usually adds to the dramatic effect of the event.
Around the month of July, the locals host official Makepung grand prix of buffaloes as the ‘Governor’s Cup’ or Piala Bupati, The series of events culminate into the finals and main celebrations which usually take place around the month of November.
Perang Pandan, also referred to by locals as mekare–kare, is a ritual blood sport that’s part of the age-old traditions of the Tenganan Dauh Tukad village in Karangasem. It can also be regarded as a coming-of-age rite among village youths, held in conjunction with the village’s annual Ngusaba Desa purification ceremonies.
The remote village of Tenganan Dauh Tukad is an approximate 78 km east of Denpasar. The Ngusaba Desa has many different ceremonial highlights, but Perang Pandan attracts spectators the most to its arena where bare-breasted village boys take turns in duelling. They’re armed only with rattan shields and a tied packet of thorny pandanus as weapons. Perang Pandan usually takes place in June.
There are many more interesting and unique festivals indigenous to Bali and their culture. You will hear more about it all during our together at Atelier Bali this November! Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to continue learning more about this one-of-a-kind Island of Gods.